Part 33: Act One Chapter Thirty - The Silver Sword
This is it. We're about to meet Zeeaire - the chief githyanki Sword Stalker, the person who ordered the attack on West Harbor.
It's also the end of Act 1. Hard to believe we could spend thirty updates chasing orcs and Watchmen just for... this.
: How long did you think you could escape us? You have stolen our shards, defiled them with your touch, and now you will die, Kalach-Cha.
Yow. Check out that portal.
As Mephasm tediously explained last update, time on different planes passes at different rates. Zeeaire is old - and this makes her powerful, and knowledgeable - but if we can bring down the portal, she'll be forced into our world, where she's nothing but an old woman.
You don't have any qualms about beating up an old lady, do you?
: [Success] You do not know your crimes? Very well, let me recount them.
I don't recall ever actually being formally charged with any crimes at any point previous. Perhaps I mislaid the paperwork - after all, not so long ago some raiders burnt down my village...
Hmm. Anyone else notice a slight hesitation on her part?
: You put too much importance on your actions and your crime. You have nothing that other thieves have not stolen before.
: You think there is something special or unique about your crime - or the shards you carry? There is not.
It's true - the more you deny, the worse you look. Zeeaire's hiding something.
We'll trick an admission out of her.
Crap. Well, it was worth a shot.
Neeshka steps in with a Bluff check of her own, and...
All right! Neeshka is good for something after all!
It's not often that the companions get to help you out with a skill check like this, and it's all the more welcome for it.
: What don't I know? I thought you were going to tell me the extent of my crime, and now you're lying to me?
Suddenly all the githyanki exchange worried looks.
Interesting... Zeeaire is supposed to be the very best of the Sword Stalkers, the careful hand of the Lich Queen - but she's obviously acting on her own here.
Why? Why hide from the Lich Queen? I know it's an odd situation, with the shattered blade and all, but even so...
Just as Bishop says that, a handful of githyanki walk out of the room. She's not entirely on her own, but there's fewer guards than before.
: I have recounted your crimes - you shall stall your punishment no longer.
: What do you want with Shandra?
: But Ammon Jerro died long ago.
: Yes, the lives of humans are all too brief.
Be fair, githyanki don't live that much longer than humans if they aren't hiding out on the Astral Plane.
: How do you expect Shandra to lead you to the silver sword?
: Within her thoughts, somewhere is the knowledge I seek. I will leave no memory unturned, no shred of self untouched... and when I have what I need, I shall execute her.
Just so we're clear on what exactly we're saving Shandra from.
Githyanki are supposed to be Psionic, which is a fancy D&D word for "psychic", which is a fancy real-world term for "brain magic". Psionics aren't part of the core rules, so Obsidian (like most developers) subbed in appropriate low-level Wizard spells as replacements for actual Psionic powers.
Anyway, that's what Zeeaire is referring to when she talks about gutting Shandra's memories.
: I am ready to face judgement - so how do you plan to kill me?
: Fine, take me to the Lich Queen. I'll kill her too.
: Our Queen has reigned for a millenium, her power only growing stronger... I would gladly bring you before her, but we have wasted enough time hunting you - and what you carry with you.
Or maybe Zeeaire doesn't want to share what she's found. Are we the centre of some kind of extraplanar coup?
Remember: Zeeaire's Level 10, and the expiry-date for all githyanki is Level 11. If Zeeaire gets any better at her job, her boss is going to suck her dry.
: Enough of this. Know that I will hear your pleas... and allow you this one last chance to atone for your crime.
Why do villains always do this? Like any hero's going to say "Sure, why not?"
: [Bluff/Lie] You are too late. I have destroyed all the shards in my possession.
: [Failure] You lie! Any githyanki could sense the presence of the shards.
Atta girl, Calliope!
She stole our shards. That sucks.
No, wait, what was that about "a piece of the Sword" inside me?
The Zeeaire fight is not difficult. Oh, she's a level 10 Fighter with a nasty Greatsword, capable of hitting for lots of damage... but she's trapped in the portal. The most she can do is fling arrows at you - not dangerous.
So take your time and eliminate the guards first. We've taken half of them out already with the successful Bluff check (including a Sorcerer guard); the other half are nothing special. One's a Cleric (and female!) but she won't last long enough to cause any serious trouble.
When you're ready to go after Zeeaire, then you can use the Interdimensional Sphere we got from Mephasm to destroy the portal. This is the only place you can use it - there's no point keeping it for later (say, to destroy a more worrisome portal at the end of the game).
If you don't use the Sphere, you have to bash the portal down manually while taking damage from Zeeaire's projectile attacks - definitely not worth it.
The portal explodes in a satisfying manner, and Zeeaire is unleashed. Now we shall taste her true power!
She's stronger and tougher than she looks, but she's all alone with no support, which makes her easy pickings. On the other hand, if you're silly and blast the portal right away, she can carve a hole straight in the middle of your party.
I think so indeed.
: The Lich Queen will know of my fall... yes... but it will be too late. What comes for you will be revenge enough.
: We could have resolved this without fighting, but you brought this on yourself.
: We were never the ones you had to fear. In defying us, you have harmed your own people - and everything on your plane.
: The githyanki will strike at you no longer - this was the last of our strongholds devoted to the recovery of the shards... there will be no more attacks from my people, because it will serve no purpose... you have sealed your fate.
: Evil wakes, Kalach-Cha, and in killing me, you now stand alone against what comes.
: And what is that?
Nice close-up for you there.
: This enemy, this King of Shadows... if he succeeds in his plans, your civilisation will become dust, and all life will be consumed by darkness.
Are you kidding me? All this time, all this effort... and it turns out Zeeaire was just the fucking warm-up act. Our villain, our 'King of Shadows' is in another castle.
Well, all right, that was fun.
The death of Zeeaire is the end of the githyanki threat. There's no one left to lead them, and even if there was their precious portal has been destroyed. We won't be seeing them again.
A player has been swept from the board.
And at least she had some nice loot on her. A nice sword, some nice armour...
...and five silver shards - the three we had, plus two new ones. Not including the one in our chest, of course.
: You all put me in danger! I'm not paying you a single coin.
: Well then you'll be paying me another way. My bedroll's a little cold at night - I'm thinking you can fix that.
Urgh. I don't mind Bishop when he's just being a prick, but this is too creepy.
For once we're glad to hear Casavir's voice.
: Oh, really, what a surprise. How'd you like it if I left you here in Luskan territory with your righteousness to keep you company?
: If you don't watch your tongue, Bishop, I'm cutting it off.
: Jealousy's thick in this little band I see. Don't worry, I haven't forgotten your pretty face, fair leader.
(Casavir and Bishop then decide to repeat their previous exchange word-for-word. Excellent proof-reading, Obsidian!)
Haha, yeah, like we're here for the damn frescoes.
* * *
I see Duncan still hasn't cleaned up yet.
: Eh? What do you mean?
: You know what I mean - there is a shard, buried within me, right beneath this scar.
: Silence, Bishop.
: I want to hear the whole story.
: Daeghun probably already told you, but when you were an infant, West Harbor was the site of a battle, a terrible battle.
We know this story. This is what the Harvest Brawl was all about : celebrating surviving the battle.
: West Harbor was struck suddenly, without warning. There was panic... confusion... villagers fleeing every which way to escape the battle.
: But Daeghun's wife, Shayla... and your mother Esmerelle did not.
: They stayed behind, to save you. As demons and magefire rained upon the village, they fought to reach your crib.
Daeghun will be furious? How about me being furious?
I had a piece of a sword inside me the whole time and that cold-blooded bastard didn't say a damn word!
: In any case, when the few that remained returned to the village, no one was alive. Except you...
: Your mother was there... so much blood and... you were clutched in her bosom, a deep wound in your chest. She'd tried to shield you, but...
: The shard must have cut through her and into you. No one knew how you survived. But you did, and your wound sealed itself within days, leaving the scar that you still bear.
Yeah, I'm not actually furious. Again, Obsidian was pretty loose with the Act 1 spoilers - the previews were pretty clear that your motive for adventuring was that you had a piece of a magical sword embedded in you.
Still, it's good to know 'properly'.
: You should have told me this long ago.
: Believe me, I wanted to. But my brother...
: Grobnar, you worthless half-man, strike up a tune... before I strike you.
Oh great, now this.
: And why would you want to do that?
: What? Does a man need a reason? Come now. Duncan's kind request was enough to start this, I think, why not finish it?
Bishop's not going to be dissuaded. He may have been reluctant to join the party before, but now the man just won't leave.
: No, no. There's no need, Bishop. I'm sorry for before, but you've done more than...
: Oh, come now, Duncan - I still owe you. And what better way to make it up to you than watching your kin here?
Admittedly, on this playthrough Bishop's actions make sense. Calliope evidently intrigues him and they're not totally incompatible... following a bossy chick around beats sitting in Duncan's smelly old tavern any day.
It's when Bishop demands to be let into the party of a Lawful Good male Paladin who's done nothing but yell at Bishop for being selfish and mean all the time that it becomes confusing. I don't know... simple perversity?
Who knows how 'the Bish' thinks?
: I still need you to get into Ammon Jerro's Haven.
: Careful, any more compassion out of you, and it could kill me.
: Well, then, as long as we simply need her with us, and don't want her, I'll drink to that.
Bishop's not the only one joining the party, either.
: Besides, whenever I'm alone, that's when the problems seem to crop up.
: Khelgar has a point. We need to train you so you'll be able to defend yourself.
: Well... I know enough to use a sword and can handle myself in a fight. I mean, I'm no spellcaster, but if you need an extra blade...
: I admit - you've rescued me twice now - and if you're going to help teach me to survive these attacks, I accept. But there's some things you're going to have to accept, too.
: I don't like being left behind. Because whenever you're out of my sight, suddenly all this trouble starts happening, and I'm really tired of it.
I'll drink to that.